7 Ways Your Smartphone Could Be Wrecking Your Health, By Experts

Using your mobile phone is seriously bad for you - so much so that the devices should carry health warnings, like cigarettes, some experts have suggested.

Some of the worst effects are from using a work gadget as a ‘leisure’ device - so that you never feel able to switch off.

But even if you just use yours for web browsing and Facebook, it’s still not a good idea to stare into that little screen for too long - here’s why.

1) Work mobiles are causing an ‘epidemic’ of stress illnesses

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Our ever-present mobile phones mean that staff feel like they are never ‘off duty’ - and are leading to an epidemic of stress-related illness.

A report from Camden Council found that one in five sick days are now related to stress or depression - and blamed mobile phones for the jump.

The report found that 20% of sick days were due to mental health issues - as opposed to 8% on average nationwide.

2) Spending too long on your phone makes you depressed

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People who use their smartphones heavily are more likely to be depressed - regardless of whether they’re using the gadget to keep up with work, or just to go on Facebook.

A study from Northwestern University found that, on average, depressed people use their phones for three times as long as people who are not depressed.

3) You are lying to yourself about how much you use your phone

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Most of us spend nearly a third of our waking hours staring at smartphones - and the scariest part is we don’t even realise it.

A study which monitored how British people used their phones found that, on average, we check our phones 85 times a day.

On average, we spend five hours, each, per day browsing the web, sending messages and using apps on our phones.

That’s double the amount we THINK we spend on our phones, according to Nottingham Trent University.

4) Your phone is ruining your sleep

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Blue light in your phone’s screen tells your body that it’s daytime - meaning you don’t sleep as well.

Harvard researchers found that blue light could ‘shift’ people’s sleep schedules by up to three hours - and other studies showed that blue light stops people getting REM sleep, the most restorative kind.

A Qualcomm poll of 4,700 phone users found that up to one in four people said their sleep was seriously disrupted by technology.

5) Checking email early in the morning can cause mental illness

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Many of us don’t even think about turning off email on our phones - but psychologists at the Future Work Centre in London said that ‘push’ email has become a ‘double edged sword’.

The team surveyed almost 2,000 working people across a range of industries and occupations in the UK about the pros and cons of using email.

They found that two of the most stressful habits were leaving email on all day and checking emails early in the morning and late at night.

There was a “strong relationship” between use of the “push” feature that automatically updates emails on devices as soon as they arrive and perceived email pressure.

The researchers said, ‘You may want to consider launching your email application when you want to use email and closing it down for periods when you don’t wish to be interrupted by incoming emails.

6) Using phones is addictive - and affects you in the same way as cocaine

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Obviously, a serious cocaine habit is far worse for your health - but technology addiction can affect people’s minds in a similar way.

Professor Ofir Turel of California State University, Fullerton, explained that up to 11% of people in Western countries are thought to suffer some form of technology addiction.

Turel says that brain scans show that Facebook users respond with the same ‘impulsive’ surge as drug users when shown images of the site.

Professor Turel of California State University, Fullerton, monitored the brains of 20 volunteers – and found that the amygdala-striatal system, involved in drug addiction, was affected when they saw images related to Facebook.

7) Looking at your phone can sap your creativity

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Using your phone excessively can lead to a slump in creativity, say Bournemouth University researchers - and the devices should carry a health warning.

The research, by Bournemouth University experts, found that 24% teenagers aged 13-17 were ‘almost constantly’ online on smart devices - behaving almost as if addicted to them.

Technology firms should use warnings to minimise the risk of this addictive behaviour, the researchers suggest.

‘Research has shown that excessive and obsessive usage and preoccupation about technology are associated with undesirable behaviours such as reduced creativity, depression and disconnection from reality,’ said Dr Raian Ali of Bournemouth University.

(Pictures: Rex)

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